WARNING: THIS IS NOT FOR THE SQUEAMISH AND NOT FOR ANYONE WHO IS NOT A PARENT.
Read on at your peril.
It's common knowledge that parenting is no easy ride; but, mostly, you have things under control. If your child throws a tantrum in a supermarket aisle, you carry on stoically. If your baby won't stop projectile vomiting, you tut and curse a little and mop it up.
But, every now and then, a scenario arises in which you feel completely helpless, and it usually begins after your child has been suspiciously quiet for a considerable length of time.
This is what happened yesterday, when my son took himself to the bathroom in a bit of a hurry, adopting a stride which can only be described as a frantic penguin waddle. I should have seen the warning signs: an hour earlier, whilst sitting at the dinner table, he had suddenly yelled "I NEED THE TOILET!" and proceeded to sprint to the downstairs loo, muttering the words "it's going to come out" as he tugged his shorts down whilst running.
And so, my spidey senses tingling at the eerie silence coming from the bathroom, I walk tentatively upstairs, slow steps, like they do in horror films. At least in horror films, though, you know the terrible scene the protagonist stumbles upon is fake. This one was very real.
I open the door, and watch as he scrubs frantically at his pants with a long strand of soiled toilet roll. I assess the situation quickly, and it's fairly clear what's happened: he has decided to curl off a turd in his pants, and in a panic is trying to wipe it off his underwear.
"I tried to go in the toilet," he explains, and turns around to point at the gaping loo. That's when I see the poo, smeared across both buttocks, like he'd sat in a pool of brown paint, and my heart sinks further into my gut.
It's time to take control. With finger and thumb, I pinch the underwear out of his hand and place it carefully to the side. My son bends over, and I grab a soggy wad of wet wipes. It doesn't take long to clean his backside - I use an up-and-down process, like someone cleaning a window - and tell him that he's going to have to have a shower.
I pull the shower curtain back, and that's when I see the poo resting gently at the bottom of the empty bath, like a ship stranded on dry land. Actually, it's poos, plural, and a couple of them boast smeared trails where they have hit the side of the bath and slithered down. My son had obviously tried to find somewhere to hide the offending evidence, and in his haste decided to lob it in the bath and pull the curtain across.
I begin to lose control of the situation, as my son washes his hands and pretends nothing has happened. It's then that I realise I'm standing on a filthy hand towel. It seems that, after shot putting his turds into the bath, he had tried to wipe himself with the towel before moving on to the toilet roll. And I was walking all over it.
Control: lost. I'm standing in the bathroom, on a soiled towel, next to a bath with a poo in it, by a child who decided to use a whole roll of toilet paper to scrub his underwear like some kind of awful Andrex advert. And the only place that is clean is, ironically, the toilet.
That's when I call for my wife. Sometimes, when you lose control, you need an extra pair of hands.